Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Blessings of House of the Lord reach faithful in many lands

Published: Saturday, Sept. 24, 1994

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As LDS temples continue to dot the world, more and more members are able to experience the blessings of temple worship, and many relate special, tender moments.

This is the last in a series of pictures of the temples, along with a vignette relating to each temple. The temples featured this week are those of Europe and Africa. The first of the series was published March 5.

Swiss Temple

Groundbreaking and site dedication: Aug. 5, 1953, by President David O. McKay

- Dedication: Sept. 11, 1955, by President David O. McKay. Rededicated Oct. 23-25, 1992, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: In Zollikofen, a northern suburb of Bern, Switzerland.

- Design description: Modern-contemporary, but similar to lines of Kirtland Temple.

ZOLLIKOFEN, SWITZERLAND

The saints in Europe had longed for a temple ever since President Joseph F. Smith had pronounced a prophecy regarding the erection of a House of the Lord in Switzerland upon a visit to Geneva in 1906.

The Swiss Temple was the ninth Latter-day Saint temple to be built, but the first to be erected in the "Old World" following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. No other LDS temple came as close to the architecture and exterior skyline of the Kirtland Temple, until the London and New Zealand Temples were built.

The first week after the dedication of the Swiss Temple in 1955, 285 endowments were performed and 29 couples were sealed for eternity. On the first day of operation 22 sessions were held between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. for 900 members, including 79 who received their own endowments, 17 living wife-to-husband sealings and 21 living children-to-parents sealings.

After being closed 21/2 years for extensive remodeling and refurnishing, the Swiss Temple was rededicated Oct. 23-25, 1992, in 10 sessions with nearly 9,000 members from throughout Europe attending. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency officiated at the services to rededicate the temple.

The temple serves an area with approximately 66,000 adult members, 10,000 of whom are endowed. For some who live long distances from the temple, attending it means spending up to two months' salaries and two to three days of travel. Many can't attend more than once a year. Because of economic reasons, others have not been able to return to the temple since receiving their own endowments.

The late Swiss Temple Pres. Percy K. Fetzer referred to the sacred edifice as "the United Nations of Europe" because of the great language variety and people from so many nations serving together in harmony each day the temple is open. - Juergen R. Moessner, Swiss Temple recorder

London Temple

Site dedication: Aug. 27, 1953, by President David O. McKay.

- Groundbreaking: Aug. 27, 1955, by President David O. McKay

- Dedication: Sept. 7-8, 1958, by President David O. McKay. Rededicated Oct. 18-20, 1992, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: Near the town of Lingfield, Surrey, England, 25 miles south of London.

- Design description: Modern-contemporary, same design as Swiss Temple.

LINGFIELD, ENGLAND

Before temples were constructed in other parts of Europe and in South Africa, the London Temple served members from a broad geographical region. Many members made tremendous sacrifices to attend the temple in London. Arthur Henry King, who was president of the London Temple from 1986-1990, told of a couple from Ghana in western Africa who saved their money and sailed by freighter to England. Their freighter pulled into an English port on a Friday night. The next morning, a deck hand volunteered to help the couple find their way to the temple. They took a train and then a taxi to reach the temple.

The joy the couple felt as they approached the temple turned to despair when they learned it was closed on Saturday afternoons and would not re-open until Tuesday morning. The last session for the day had begun about half an hour before they arrived. By the time the temple would open again Tuesday morning, the couple's freighter would already be on its return voyage to Africa.

The couple broke down and cried. They were extremely disappointed that they had traveled so far at such a great cost, having even arrived at the temple and yet would be unable to receive its blessings. Pres. King, upon learning of the couple's plight, instructed temple workers to arrange for a special session to be held. With a few local members and several temple workers coming together for an additional session that day, the couple from Ghana received their endowments and were blessed with the sealing ordinances of the temple. That afternoon, they left the temple filled with joy.

The London Temple stands on historic ground. In 1953, the Church purchased a 32-acre estate, Newchapel Farm. The land was listed in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror's time; the oldest part of the large manor house (which became a residence for temple presidents and has housed missionaries) dates back to Elizabethan times.

The temple was rededicated Oct. 18-20, 1992, after having been closed for 2 1/2 years for extensive renovation and refurbishing. President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency officiated at the rededicatory services. - Gerry Avant

Freiberg Germany Temple

Groundbreaking and site dedication: April 23, 1983, by Elder Thomas S. Monson, then of the Council of the Twelve.

- Dedication: June 29-30, 1985, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: In Freiberg, about 120 miles south of Berlin.

- Design description: Modern design with old world German influence.

FREIBERG, GERMANY

The Freiberg Germany Temple, once planned and built for the members of the German Democratic Republic, experienced a substantial extension of its district after the collapse of the communist government in the eastern countries of Europe.

Now the visits of Czech, Polish and Hungarian members are not uncommon. They even bring their own temple workers along. Most of those visitors, however, are comparatively new converts to the Church. In their homelands, the materialistic doctrine was the doctrine of their government, and the whole educational system accordingly was atheistically defined. The desire of the people of the eastern countries was for freedom, truth and justice, and their longing for something better, more noble and more beautiful was great.

As members from many parts of the eastern countries have a long trip connected with personal sacrifices, the trip for the members of Ukraine is by far longer and more strenuous, not to mention the material sacrifices. The first groups from Ukraine always arrived by bus, which was filled to capacity - a real "old timer." They had to pass two border checkpoints, and, at one time, their wait lasted eight hours.

In terms of social status, they have the lowest of all the countries mentioned. With an average monthly income of $12, they have to somehow exist and do without all the things the people in the West take for granted.

Life had been very hard to them. But their great faith, their humility, their love and willingness to learn touched the temple workers deeply. They never complained about their situation, nor felt sorry for themselves.

For their young people, baptisms for the dead were arranged. When we saw a group of young women (about 15 years old) coming toward the temple on the morning of their arrival, we opened the door for them. But we watched them standing on the first step, close together as a group, with their heads bowed in solemn prayer. This was their attitude before they entered the temple for the first time in their young lives.

When the hour of departure was near, the members turned around again and again to hug and thank the temple workers. Some of them stood crying at the outside wall, with their heads leaning against it and their arms stretched out wide, as if to embrace the temple and hold it tight.- Gottfried Richter, first counselor in the Freiberg Germany Temple presidency

Stockholm Sweden Temple

Groundbreaking, site dedication: March 17, 1984, by Elder Thomas S. Monson, then of the Council of the Twelve.

- Dedication: July 2-4, 1985, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: Vasterhaninge, about 13 miles southeast of Stockholm.

- Design: Modern

VASTERHANINGE, SWEDEN

A few days before the dedication of the Stockholm Sweden Temple, Bishop Krister Stendahl of the Lutheran church toured the edifice. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve said an inspiring account of the clergyman's visit was printed in a prominent Swedish newspaper.

Elder Wirthlin, speaking in the October 1986 general conference, quoted from that report:

" `Imagine that a new, gleaming white temple with slender pinnacles and towers has been erected to the glory of God. Not a church, not a chapel, but a temple for sacred ordinances, performed quietly and in solemn dignity.

" `A temple where the innermost room is named the celestial. A temple where the faithful perform vicarious work according to Paul's statements on baptism for the dead. (1 Cor. 15:29.)

" `All in consequence of the wisdom and calling of Joseph Smith. . . .

" `What shall we think and say about this? To pretend that it does not concern us that the Mormons - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - have built a temple in our midst would be conceited or condescending.

" `Therefore I will rejoice with them over this temple that they have erected with much sacrifice to the glory of God. To experience their joy and pride over the beauty of the temple warms one's heart in a special way.' "

The temple, built in a wooded area believed by Swedish archaeologists to be the site of an ancient settlement and burial ground dating back some 500 years B.C., serves members in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Frankfurt Germany Temple

Groundbreaking, site dedication: May 19, 1984, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Dedication: Sept. 24, 1987, by President Ezra Taft Benson.

- Location: Friedrichsdorf, about nine miles north of Frankfurt.

- Design description: Modern.

FRIEDRICHSDORF, GERMANY

When he offered the prayer to dedicate the Frankfurt Germany Temple, President Ezra Taft Benson asked that it "be a light unto all nations." (Church News, Sept. 5, 1987.)

All who come to the Frankfurt temple, though from many different lands, speak the same language: the language of the Spirit.

Not long ago, two young men from different parts of the world passed the recommend desk together for a very special purpose. One young man's hair was black and his complexion was olive. The other had reddish hair and his face was sprinkled with freckles. But the eyes of both had the same sparkle.

The one who came to the temple to be endowed was born in Spain and is living in Paris, France. The other who served as his escort is of Irish descent and is a citizen of the United States.

The week they came to the temple was a "French week," with members and workers coming from the Paris France Stake. The week preceding was a "German week." The week following would be a "Dutch week." Temple patrons and workers mark their calendars months and years in advance, arranging for work days or vacation time to do the great spiritual labor of the temple. They come with joy and enthusiasm and dedication to spend the week performing ordinance work for the living and for the dead. Then in prayer meeting on the last day of the temple week, tears come to the eyes of temple workers and patrons as we sing "God Be with You Till We Meet Again." Each one sings in his own language, but the same message comes to all through the Spirit.

As we say Auf Wiedersehen or Au Revoir or Tot ziens or Goodbye, we know that we really will see one another again, if not in the Frankfurt temple, then in another place where friends who are united in the gospel will meet and continue to work together as participants in the great plan of eternal salvation and exaltation.

As it is with the young Frenchman and his American friend, our fellowship not only stretches across continents, but also reaches, through the Spirit, across eternity. - E. Lionel Brady, second counselor in the Frankfurt Germany Temple presidency.

Johannesburg South Africa Temple

Groundbreaking, site dedication: Nov. 27, 1982, by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve.

- Dedication: Aug. 24-25, 1985, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: Two miles north of the city center of Johannesburg.

- Design description: Modern adaptation of earlier six-spire design.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

At the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, Afrikaaners and Zulus embrace each other in warm greetings. The soft accents of members of British, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Irish and Indian ancestry mingle with the clicking sounds of those who speak Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and other African languages.

The 1.5-acre temple grounds, beautifully landscaped with trees, bushes and flowers, stand as a jewel in a land noted for its diamond and gold mines. The temple is as a spiritual magnet, drawing members from not only South Africa but also from other African nations such as Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana. The temple and its grounds are as an island of tranquility in a land where the media have painted a dramatic picture of the flames of strife.

The temple in Johannesburg brings Latter-day Saints the greatest blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, blessings once obtained only at tremendous personal expense and sacrifice. Stories abound of those who deprived themselves of material comforts and desires to go to the temple in London, some 8,000 miles away, or the United States, more than 12,000 miles away.

When the temple was dedicated, Harlan W. Clark, who served as a missionary in South Africa from 1935-37, as mission president, 1970-73, and as the first president of the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, told the Church News: "There is a family in Cape Town, who virtually starved themselves to save money to go to the temple 14 years ago. They put themselves on very meager rations. Then someone gave them $100 to help pay their expenses. They went to the London Temple and stayed three weeks, doing nothing but temple work. They returned to Cape Town, they saved money again to accumulate another $100, which they gave to another family planning to go to the temple. That family then donated to a third family. The tradition continued a long time."

In light of such accounts, it is no wonder that news that a temple would be built on this continent was met with great rejoicing. Faithful Latter-day Saints come to the temple from near and far. Some travel days by bus or, if they're more fortunate, come in cars. Some walk great distances when money for bus fare is in short supply or when no transportation is available for part of the journey from the remote areas in which they live. - Gerry Avant

Preston England Temple

Groundbreaking and site dedication: June 12, 1994, by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency.

- Location: At Chorley, near Preston, Lancashire.

CHORLEY, ENGLAND

On Oct. 19, 1992, during the second day of ceremonies to rededicate the London Temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency announced that a second temple would be built in England in "an area rich in Church history in the British Isles." No specific location was named, but it was announced the temple would be constructed in the Preston, Lancashire, vicinity and would serve members of the Church in the northern part of England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

On Sunday, June 12, 1994, the largest gathering of Church members in the Northwest of England since the Church's first area conference at Manchester, almost a quarter-century earlier, participated in the groundbreaking for the Preston England Temple at Chorley.

The site is near Preston, where the first converts in Great Britain were baptized in 1837 in the River Ribble. The Preston Ward is the longest continuously functioning unit in the Church anywhere in the world.

The ceremony to break ground for the new temple was particularly poignant for President Hinckley, who in his address reminded those attending that he had served as a missionary in Preston 61 years earlier. Before the meeting began he walked through the crowd, shaking hands. Tears flowed as he once again met and embraced local member Robert Pickles, now in a wheelchair, who was a member-missionary companion for a youthful, 23-year-old Elder Hinckley.

"This is an emotional experience for me," said President Hinckley, as he began his talk. "Never, all those years ago, would I have dreamed that a temple would be built here. This will become our ensign upon the mountain. A temple is a unique structure: a monument to our convictions, belief and knowledge that life is eternal; that we go on living after death."

Also participating in the ceremony to break ground for the new temple were Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve; Elder Kenneth Johnson, president of the Europe North Area; and his counselors, Elder Hugh W. Pinnock and Elder Graham W. Doxey, all members of the Seventy. - Bryan J. Grant and Gerry Avant

Madrid Spain Temple

A temple is being planned for Spain in the vicinity of Madrid.

In general conference April 5, 1993, President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency announced that the Church was acquiring land for a temple in Spain.

Nearly six months earlier, on Oct. 25, 1992, the last day of the rededication of the Swiss Temple, President Hinckley spoke of the possibility of there being a temple somewhere "in the Iberian Peninsula." Although he did not make a formal announcement that a temple was being planned for Spain, he told the congregation - many of whom were from Spain and Portugal - that the day would come when there would be a temple in Spain. "Don't get too expectant," he said. "Come to this

the SwissT temple. I'm getting to be an old man, but . . . I hope I live long enough . . . to sing praises to the Lord in a house of His where the languages of Iberia will be sung in praise to God. That will come. I don't know when, . . . but it will come to your land." - Gerry Avant